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As difficult as it may sometimes be, there are times when you simply have to draw a line in the sand when it comes to ending a client relationship.

Whether the parting of ways is mutual, born out of a misalignment of expectations or otherwise, it's never a pleasant step to have to take. Thinking about breaking up with a client? Here are some considerations that could help inform your next steps.

First, know when it's time to end things.

The pandemic's devastating ripple effects continue to send a shockwave throughout the industry, leaving many physically and emotionally exhausted, while at the same time also being thankful for having any customers at all. But while the need for travelers remains great, it doesn't mean you have to let everything else fly out the window (aka going against what's in your best interests) to keep them on your roster.

These are a sampling of the client red flags you should be on the lookout for:

  • Always expecting beyond "above and beyond"—even when you attempt to reel in their expectations to be more realistic.
  • Consistent late or missing payments.
  • Abusive or inappropriate language or behavior.
  • Lack of respect for your time and expertise.
  • Not sharing necessary documents.
  • Consistently asking for free perks or unreasonable discounts.

You and your team deserve respect. Anything less doesn't have to be accepted as the norm.

Next, move forward.

Explain, as best as you can, why you're choosing to move on. Once you've decided you'd like to sever ties with a client, figure out what it looks like to move forward respectfully. Ensure you approach the situation with transparency and as much understanding as possible. It's vital to remain professional and to be prepared to potentially encounter some heightened emotions.

Keep things smooth. It's rare that you'd ever need to cut someone off cold turkey. If there are certain documents or procedures that will help your soon-to-be former client understand how to proceed in this transition, ensure they have access. Part of keeping things flowing smoothly is doing all of these steps in a timely manner. No need to drag it all out. Create a plan and outline everything you'll need to address in order to have your bases covered.

Remain on the high road. If things get sticky, remember to stay calm. The last thing you want to do is burn any bridges, as you never know who someone knows and what information they'd share if they feel they've been wronged. Your good reputation is worth protecting! If you feel it's appropriate, make recommendations for someone who may be a better fit for your former client's needs.

Iron out the final details. Review any contracts or agreements in place to properly assess what, if anything, still needs fulfillment. From there, work together to agree on an official end date that works for both parties.

In the end, client break ups—as unpleasant as they can be—are part of any business. As long as you handle it with grace and intentionality, you'll come out on the other side having learned a lesson or two and will be ready to move forward positively.

Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for Groups Today.

This article originally appeared in the Jul/Aug '22 issue of Groups Today.

 

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